Paper Making with a Purpose at BluSeed Studios

It is late afternoon and I am on my way to BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake. Not for an art opening today, but for a workshop on paper making, and not just any paper making. Today is the Panty Pulping workshop, which is what first caught my attention.

I read beforehand that this is a community empowerment workshop that gives participants the opportunity to transform their own underwear into paper in the public sphere as a way of combating sexual and domestic violence. To quote the press literature,"Participants may take as much time as needed, with rolling attendance and will be able to keep the paper they create, be it made from their personal fiber or the community pulp. Please bring a pair of 'unmentionables' to pulp."

I arrive to find that the workshop is happening outdoors which makes perfect sense since papermaking can be a rather messy business.

The organizers first ask me to sign a pledge to help prevent violence in thought, speech, and action. Then I am guided to the cutting table where two ladies are already shredding their underwear. I join in and soon have a small bucket of pieces.

While my pieces are waiting to be pulped, I am shown how to pull the pulp to make paper. I get to choose the color and then grab two screens and pull the screens through the colored water. Then I gently shake the screens until most of the water has drained off. Then, I remove the top screen and can already see the paper that is emerging. The next step is called couching. The screen is slowly turned upside down and I press the fiber out onto a flat surface and leave it there to dry. At this point, I am working with the communal pulp but now the pulping machine is ready for my sliced undergarment. I get to shake the pieces in and watch as they swirl around in the water and are slowly decomposed into what will become more communal pulp.

You may ask, why panties? The folks running this workshop have the answer ready in their handmade handout. "We take the most intimate piece of our dress and put it on the table. Each pair means something different. A memory, a felling, an anxiety, beauty, pleasure, hurt. All of the most intimate meanings in our unmentionables. We cut them up together meditating on the feelings and the combined electricity of breaking something in order to make something."

It is a beautiful sentiment and a lovely sense of camaraderie emerges among the participants. I have to leave before my paper is dry and my garment is completely pulped but I leave my name and e-mail so I will be able to collect the paper I pulled on another occasion.

It is a gentle and wonderful introduction to a lovely art. BluSeed Studios is offering many more workshops over the summer season including pottery, book making, and painting and enameling projects.

For more information on the Panty Pulping Project, click through to the web site.

To learn more about events in the Saranac Lake Region, check out the Region's web site.

Kathleen Recchia has been enjoying the arts in the Adirondacks for about 20 years—both as observer and participant (acting, directing, and producing). She also enjoys cross-country skiing, swimming, juggling, and hosting visitors to the area at her bed & breakfast in Jay. 

Categories:Events, Arts
Birding in Spring Pond Bog
Trail Running the Deer Pond Loop

E-Newsletter Signup Form

1 Start 2 Complete

About The Author

Blog Topics...

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018
Registration Now Open for Kids’ Afterschool Art Classes at BluSeed Studios BluSeed Studios announces open registration for children’s after school art classes as of October 12. Classes...
Wednesday, October 17th, 2018
The upcoming date less then 1 day.
Our Wednesday Tasting Series will begin again on September 26th! Join us in Great Hall Bar every Wednesday for special beverage tastings alongside complimentary food pairings by Campfire Adirondack...

Recent Blog Posts...

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018
Submitted by guest writer, Elisabeth Marchbanks I must admit, fall is my favorite season in the Adirondacks. As the air becomes crisper and the leaves start to change their color, I can’t help but...
Thursday, October 4th, 2018
A great time of year for a hike Fall is made for hiking. It possesses the perfect mix of pleasantries — leaf color, pleasant temperatures, and no bugs — that appeals to time outside. So when...
Win a fantastic getaway! It's free! Enter now.
Fly to Saranac Lake via Cape Air The Adirondack Regional Airport, your "Gateway to the Adirondacks," provides quick and convenient access to and from Logan International in Boston, MA. Daily flights are provided...
Woods and Water Defined by nature, recreation, heritage, learning, creativity, and cuisine, we invite you to explore our historic routes and waterway connections.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter.
Interested In
Sign Me Up!